Three weeks in LGBTI news of the world
May 4-24, 2018
Prepared by Daniele Paletta
Edited by Callum Birch
ILGA's LGBulleTIn #121 provides three weeks in LGBTI news of the world to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community and their allies
Monday, May 7
Cameroon: charges dropped against five persons who were arrested and accused of same-sex activity
Five staff members of a public health organisation in Dschang, Cameroon have been released on bail after they had been jailed for days and reportedly charged with same-sex activity.
On April 20, the five persons were getting ready to close the centre for the day when unknown men in civilian clothes entered the premises, assaulted them and took them to the local police station. For days, they were not made aware of the reason of the arrest and were reported being in difficult health conditions.
After six days, where they were also reportedly threatened with forced anal examinations, the five men were released on bail and charges against them were dropped soon after.
Monday, May 7
Colombia presents its LGBTI public policy
The Ministry of the Interior of Colombia has presented the country’s LGBTI public policy.
The document “stems from the recognition of equal dignity to all LGBTI people and of their inalienable rights”. It aims to promote and guarantee civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights, to all rainbow communities.
The government also committed itself to create a working group to ensure the policy is implemented effectively.
As Colombia Diversa explains, work on the policy started in 2009, after an episode of discrimination suffered by a trans woman in public services prompted the Constitutional Court to ask the Ministry of Interior for a “comprehensive national, constant and unified” public policy to protect the rights of rainbow communities. The guidelines will now serve as a tool to defend LGBTI persons in case of human rights violations. Read more via Caribe Afirmativo.
Tuesday, May 8
Pakistan passes historic trans rights bill
The National Assembly of Pakistan passed a landmark bill to better protect the rights of trans people, providing them with the possibility of see their gender legally recognised without medical gatekeeping.
As NPR reports, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act allows people to have their identity recognized on official documents, including national IDs, passports and driver's licenses. The bill prohibits discrimination in education, workplace and healthcare settings, and also states that trans persons cannot be deprived of the right to vote or to run for office. The bill also lays out their rights to inheritance, and demands that the government create ‘protection centres and safe houses’, along with separate prisons or places of confinement.
Having passed through both chambers of parliament, the bill was sent to the President of Pakistan in order to be signed into law.
Monday, May 14
“We are nowhere near done” when it comes to LGBTI equality in Europe, new studies show
A series of new publications looking at laws and policies affecting rainbow communities in Europe has shown that full equality is still nowhere near accomplished.
ILGA-Europe’s 2018 Rainbow Europe map and index has cast a light on how advances are not being made at the rate they once were in the region. The lack of sustained progress creates a worrying picture, considering a political climate where populism and civil society scapegoating are on the rise. “Ensuring full equality for LGBTI people has never and will not stop at marriage equality!,” commented Joyce Hamilton, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board. “All governments in Europe have to pick up the pace, stick to their commitments and make legal protection a reality for all LGBTI people, particularly trans and intersex people.”
Another new report has revealed the long path towards the right to full self-determination for trans people in Europe: TGEU’s Trans Rights Europe Map & Index 2018 has shown that 34 states still require a mental health diagnosis in gender recognition procedures, and 14 states still require trans persons to be sterilised despite the European Court of Human Rights declaring in 2017 that such a requirement for legal gender recognition procedures violates human rights.
Despite advances, further work is also needed also in education settings. The first edition of IGLYO’s LGBTQI Inclusive Education Index and Report has shown that 11 countries in the Council of Europe have failed to implement any measure to guarantee LGBTQI inclusion within state schools. 30 states and Kosovo, however, have already developed anti-discrimination laws that include SOGIESC as protected grounds, and that are applicable to education settings.
Thursday, May 17
The world celebrates International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
Communities from across the world celebrated the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, focusing their attentions on alliances for solidarity.
A group of United Nations and international human rights experts released a powerful statement on the occasion, reminding States that “without urgent measures to address violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the international community will fail to (…) deliver on the promise not to leave anyone behind in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The bisexual, trans and intersex pride flags were flown together with the rainbow flag on the foreground of parliament in Aotearoa New Zealand, and many more initiatives were organised worldwide to celebrate rainbow communities and raise awareness of the hostility that they still face on a daily basis.
On the occasion, ILGA launched its #TurnItOff campaign, raising voices of LGBTI persons worldwide as they cast a light on how LGBTI-phobia has an impact on their lives and intersects with their identities.
Amidst all the celebrations and the global outpour of support for LGBTI people, there were sadly also examples showing how much more needs to be done until we reach a world free of human rights violations against our communities.
In Uganda, a minister ordered police to shut down a local IDAHOTB event, despite permissions previously granted to organisers. In Georgia, dozens of activists took to the streets even after receiving death threats and having to cancel original plans for celebrations. In China, security personnel assaulted two women at an action against homophobia in Beijing’s art district. And in Lebanon, the Internal Security Forces arrested Beirut Pride organizer Hadi Damien and forced him to suspend the week of events scheduled to coincide with IDAHOTB.
Tuesday, May 22
United States: federal law protects trans students, court rules
A US judge has ruled that federal law protects a trans student's right to use facilities comporting with his gender identity.
In the latest legal twist of a long-running case, a federal court in Virginia denied the Gloucester County School Board’s motion to dismiss a case brought by former student Gavin Grimm, holding that Title IX and the Constitution protect trans students from being excluded from the common restrooms that align with their gender identity.
Grimm, now 19 years old, sued the Gloucester County School Board in 2015. The school initially allowed him to use the men’s restroom, only to then direct him to use a single-person bathroom after several adults complained about the move.
As Buzzfeed reports, he won at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, but the school board appealed its loss to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. After the Trump administration withdrew the previous guidance saying that public schools must accommodate trans students with facilities that accord with their gender, the case was remanded to district court.
“I feel an incredible sense of relief,” Gavin Grimm said after the most recent ruling. “After fighting this policy since I was 15 years old, I finally have a court decision saying that what the Gloucester County School Board did to me was wrong and it was against the law. I was determined not to give up because I didn’t want any other student to have to suffer the same experience that I had to go through.”
Thursday, May 24
Australia: Victoria scraps ‘forced divorce’ precondition for legal gender recognition
Married trans and gender-diverse people in Victoria will soon be able to see their gender legally recognised without having to divorce first, as the parliament passed a bill to scrap the ‘forced divorce’ precondition.
As Star Observer points out, States and territories were given 12 months to change their laws in accordance with federal marriage equality when it was passed in December. A bill to scrap the abusive precondition was also introduced in New South Wales this week, and another one is currently before Queensland parliament. South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory had already changed their laws before December.
Transgender Victoria media representative Sally Goldner acknowledged the importance of the recent advances. “These reforms simply extend concepts like love and equality, but we would like to acknowledge the couples who were sadly forced apart before this reform and the sacrifices they made,” said Ms Goldner. “We urge the remaining states and territories to also move quickly. We also believe remaining issues regarding birth certificates need to progress urgently.”
Is that all? More LGBTI news bites
The International Family Equality Day was celebrated worldwide on May 6, focusing on the work that still needs to be done towards the full legal protection of children in rainbow families. Only a few days later, the Parliament of Greece voted to allow same-sex couples in a civil partnership to foster children.
Members of the Equal Rights Coalition have issued a statement urging all governments to end the practice of forced anal exams on individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Costa Rica Supreme Electoral Court announced that citizens will now be able to change their name according to their gender identity in their IDs following an administrative procedure, and that the sex marker will be removed from such documents. A challenge to the decision has been announced.
ILGALAC and SAGE have launched a survey on LGBTI elders in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Researchers, government experts, NHRIs and UN partners worldwide gathered together in Hong Kong to highlight how LGBTI-related research and data collection initiatives can better inform policymakers, service providers and the general public.
A new report has analysed how the human rights situation of LGBTIQ communities and their defenders in 11 Southeast Asian countries has evolved since the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Yogyakarta Principles were introduced.
In California, United States, the Senate approved a resolution calling on medical professionals to delay unnecessary surgery on intersex infants until they reach an age where they’re able to give their consent.
Statistics Canada has reportedly begun to test new questions on some surveys to capture a wider definition of gender. The change is likely to affect also the 2021 Census. The news came only a few days after Ontario issued its first non-binary birth certificate.
Parliament in Sweden has voted to add gender identity and expression among the protected grounds in its hate crime legislation, and first moves were made to add the same grounds in the hate speech legislation.
More than 20 far-right group members disrupted an LGBTI rights event in Kyiv, Ukraine, threatening participants with violence unless they left the venue.
The president of Portugal vetoed a recent law aiming to better protect the rights of trans and intersex persons. The law now returns to the Parliament for further consideration.
65 civil society groups expressed "deep concern" to the government of Tanzania over "the worrying decline in respect for human rights”, and citing persecution of LGBTI human rights defenders among the reasons of concern.
In Cape Town, South Africa, a church leader has been sentenced to 30 days in prison, suspended for five years, for contempt of court after he disregarded a court order barring him from making homophobic comments.
In Australia, a poll showed that four out of five respondents oppose the right of religious schools to hire and fire staff or expel students because of their sexual orientation.
In Samoa, the Samoa Fa'afafine Association has completed its training of trainers aimed to promote non-discriminatory healthcare services that are accommodating of fa'afafine and fa'atama health needs.
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